David Schwimmer’s second directorial effort, “Trust,” is about online sexual predators, and for the most part he and his screenwriter, Andy Bellin, resist sensationalism. This resistance, of course, makes the horrors seem even more horrific. The film’s creepy matter-of-factness is its strongest suit.
Annie (Liana Liberato), from a middle-class Chicago suburb, is a shy 14-year-old who strikes up an increasingly intimate online friendship with “Charlie” (Chris Henry Coffey), who claims he is 16, later on admitting to being in his mid-20s. By the time he flies in for an assignation with her in her hometown, we (unlike Annie) are not shocked to discover that he’s in his mid-30s. He takes her back to his hotel room and sweet talks the terrified but mesmerized girl into bed. (Mercifully, the scene fades out without showing anything explicit.)
Annie’s parents, Will (Clive Owen) and Lynn (Catherine Keener), are portrayed a bit too neatly as conventional “Ozzie and Harriet” types. When they discover what has happened to Annie, their coziness is shattered. Rape charges are filed (Annie, in deep denial, at first denies she was raped) and the FBI conducts a manhunt for “Charlie,” who has a long list of previous victims.
The film not too convincingly suggests that, because Will is an ad executive who specializes in risqué clothing campaigns, he somehow is part of the big bad world that claimed his daughter. It’s a false note. What “Trust” conveys, at its best, is that ultimately parental protections are not fullproof, and that is the greatest horror of all. Grade: B (Rated R for disturbing material involving the rape of a teen, language, sexual content, and some violence.)